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BBC iPlayer Scrap Offline TV Show Downloads for Desktop Users UPDATE

Monday, Feb 12th, 2024 (7:41 am) - Score 4,080

Over a decade has now passed since the BBC released its iPlayer Downloads app for PC and Mac users in the UK to “make offline viewing more simple“, which is a useful tool for those who may not always be close to a working broadband connection (e.g. when travelling). But sadly, the desktop download app will soon be no more.

Ths change does NOT impact the iPlayer app for mobile or tablet devices (Android/iOS), which is a fully contained solution and so will still allow users to download TV shows for offline viewing. By comparison, PC and Mac users needed their own dedicated desktop software or use the website to achieve the same outcome, and this is what the BBC has decided to withdraw.

The announcement came in the form of an easily missed update to the iPlayer’s Q&A support page for offline viewing (here). Credits to CordBusters for spotting the development.

BBC statement for computer or laptop users

We have started the process of closing the Desktop Downloads App. Downloading programmes from a computer or laptop will no longer be available from Monday 11 March. You can still watch your existing downloads until Monday 8 April 2024.

You can also still download your favourite programmes on your mobile device, and add programmes to your Watchlist to return later.

The reality here is that only a small portion of desktop iPlayer users made use or were even aware of this feature and, in a climate of cost-cutting, it probably became another thing that the bosses felt could no longer be sustained.

UPDATE 10:57am

Just to be clear. The change impacts both the downloadable app and desktop users who try to download for offline viewing via iPlayer’s website. Web users who click to download a show will now be greeted with this message: “From the 11th March you will no longer be able to download content from the web. If you already have the Downloads app installed, you can continue to download until this time.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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18 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Patrick says:

    To be clear, is this within a separate app for desktop but not when using iplayer on the BBC website within a browser?

  2. Avatar photo Patrick says:

    “or use the website to achieve the same outcome,”
    Ah.. missed that .Thanks.
    Thank Goodness for third party aps that allow you to download, keep and watch for as long as you like, assuming they will still work.

    1. Avatar photo anonymous says:

      Phase 1: Remove the app where downloads to a PC possible in highest quality offered.
      Phase 2: Upgrade your DRM to newer (currently watertight) version like some other sites like Apple have done and Amazon doing….

    2. Avatar photo Bevster69uk says:

      Phase 3: Feel smug that nobody can download your content! (Except none of the DRM options have stopped this completely for any of the other sites)
      Phase 4: Play whack-a-mole with the pirates!

    3. Avatar photo anonymous says:

      It has stopped it for for Apple’s NEW content (new movies and rentals since at least 2023 onwards) sits secure behind DRM. TV Shows and Music is still on older DRM. Amazon is in process of changing. On some DRM implementations (Widevine), it means only low quality can be done instead of 1080p where software tries to capture it rather than get the raw stream of data.

      The rights holders won’t grant access to broadcasters or online sellers if they don’t have confidence in DRM and that’s why they get changed/upgraded (btw I’m not advocating anything here). It is a cat and mouse game between provider and pirate.

    4. Avatar photo Munehaus says:

      If you can see it or hear it, you can copy it.

      This won’t stop the pirates, but it may push many paying customers into using the pirates instead. Today’s TV companies seem to have learnt nothing from the music business failings 20 years ago.

  3. Avatar photo GG says:

    BBC again forgetting who is forced to pay their the bills.

    Oh well, there’s always piracy as the easier option.

    Being serious – i’ve friends on glacial internet connections who used this as a mechanism to be able to watch without buffering or the quality becoming like a high channel freeview mux.

    1. Avatar photo anonymous says:

      And you are forgetting that the BBC has MANY independent studios and other rights holders supplying content. This content can be accessed outside of its licensed area by VPN for example. That’s why there is a DOG on-screen and DRM. They have to satisfy other rights holders not just their own content and all the broadcasters in UK use DRM.

    2. Avatar photo HR2Res says:

      But presumably they will still be able to download on their phone/tablet and watch. And unless along with this change they remove casting/mirroring (unless that’s not possible currently within the mobile app!?) they can then cast the download to TV or PC.

    3. Avatar photo anonymous says:

      The mobile apps download a lower quality version not the 1080p50 versions.
      They are effectively going to be like Sky Go and Now TV apps as downloads wrapped inside the app.

    4. Avatar photo HR2Res says:

      @anonymous “The mobile apps download a lower quality version not the 1080p50 versions. …”

      The default download quality is SD. But you can download (presumably) HD quality by setting “Higher quality downloads” in Downloads.

      (And answering my own point: currently casting is an option.)

    5. Avatar photo Anonymous says:

      Yes you can set to HD in mobile app, but it won’t be the 1080p50 stream. It will be 720p50 deinterlaced version.

  4. Avatar photo Ian says:

    Need to aboloish this deep state propaganda arm masquerading as an impartial content provider.

    1. Avatar photo anonymous says:

      Wrong forum. This about iPlayer downloads not people with their own agendas.

    2. Avatar photo MikeP says:

      Why a reference to GB News in a comment on an article about the BBC?

  5. Avatar photo anonymous says:

    Another anonymous user posting content encouraging circumvention of DRM on intellectual property. Sigh: This site should be better than this. You have to wonder the people that post it thinking that only other pirates would read the story. It’s an industry news web site, people from FACT to Broadcasters to Telecoms staff will read this content. Your ego boasting purpose will only serve for them to make those tools not work so I hope you realise that.

  6. Avatar photo Craig says:

    That’s so annoying. I use this all the time to download programs at home to watch when away in a hotel with work.

    Hotel WiFi is generally rubbish and not good enough to stream

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